It’s been that time of year when we’ve been on our annual cycling/gastronomy tour of France. This year we returned to the Loire Valley. This was our first holiday together 8 years ago. A saga I’ll never forget as when I arrived at CDG airport, AirFrance had kindly left my bag in Manchester, a bomb scare then followed and the subsequent delay caused us to miss our TGV and we were then €250 worse off buying another ticket. Let alone the disaster of being on a cycling holiday with no clothes in the middle of France!
Luckily this time around, things weren’t as bad. Not for the want of the airports authorities again. Another misplaced bag, led to CDG closing one of the baggage halls where our bags were. They didn’t evacuate the building, which if it had been a bomb we would all have been trapped by the explosion, idiots. Anyway after two hours of been squashed into another baggage hall, someone saw sense and off we went to collect our bags. By the skin of our teeth we made our connections too. And relax!
We arrived at this wonderful Chateau de Chissay. It looks amazing, it sort of goes downhill from there though. The staff are all wonderful, but we were in a five star hotel that doesn’t have any wifi or a proper shower or TV. I’d like to comment on the absurd toilet situation in our grand suite, but it’ll put you off your dinner.
I’ve heard of small portions on menus but this……..This was my main course, it was literally two mouthfuls of overcooked beef. It was delicious overcooked beef, but for Pete’s sake. I felt like throwing my plate on the floor in protest, plus the burnt blinis. Shocking. We then had some crepe suzettes, cooked at the table. They looked great until we tasted them and all we could taste was very acrid burnt orange. On a positive note, there was plenty of room left for breakfast in the morning.
A 30km cycle the next day to the north of Amboise landed us at L’Aubiniere. A newly built boutique hotel in the middle of nowhere. It was really nice, they just didn’t give us the room we paid for! The chef has a day off on a Monday, so we were subbed out to a local Auberge. This was a gem of a place called Le Fleuray. Luckily we didn’t pay for the transfer, it was €30/$30 to go 6km, then €38 on the return. I say get Uber in quicksmart. French taxi drivers are very interesting, you never see a poor one that looks like he’s been on a nightshift. I digress. The food at Le Fleuray was great. Two excellent starters of stone bass and veal carpaccio, followed by these:
Need I say more. French Charolais cow. Awesome. We ate at L’Aubiniere on the second evening. It was by far the best of the week.
A super moist stone bass fillet with salsa verde and a tomato confit thing. Not sure how or why you’d confit a tomato. Maybe it got lost in translation. Was great though.
Yum yum, the French certainly know how to treat a cow properly. All the beef we ate all week had such wonderful aged depth of flavour. Plus the yellow carrot. These are the future, I tell you now. You can keep your orange and purple ones. Yellow carrots taste like foods of the Gods. Imagine a carrot that has been slowly simmered in butter until cooked. You can half image where I’m coming from now.
After another heavy days cycle, via the most incredible garden festival at Chaumont sur Loire, the food sadly went downhill. It was perfectly fine to fill two hungry cyclists, but nothing really worthy of this blog.
Another wonderful week pottering about in the French countryside. We only got soaked once too! Weather was rubbish, but heyho. Following on from my last post, if you could be so kind to click the link below to vote for me in The Drinks Cellar blog awards. I’d like to think there’ll be a nice black tie award ceremony. I’m not holding my breadth though.